"I'm not this bad. I can't be this bad. Am I this bad?" (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
I covered the pitching staff last week. Now the "hitters".
Rod Barajas: D+. wOBA by month: April: .306, May: .392, June: .226, July: .120. Two months ago he looked like a bargain, which he can still be if the Mets just stop playing him altogether. He's vastly inferior to Henry Blanco and, in all likelihood, Josh Thole, who should be platooning with one another while Barajas sells used cars.
Jason Bay: C-. If you think Bay's grade should be lower, oh well. He has hardly been awful -- he has just been an awful version of Jason Bay, which is disappointing but kind of like an Albert Pujols version of Jeff Francoeur. The history of All-Star-level performance is there for Bay, and despite underperforming to this point I think most people figure he'll be fine in the long run.
Henry Blanco: B. Not much to complain about here. Blanco is making hardly any money and has been an average NL catcher offensively (Blanco: .727 OPS, NL catchers: .728 OPS) with superb defense. Blanco has gunned down seven of 16 would-be base-stealers, and he'd probably punch me in the mouth just for bringing up the nine guys who made it safely.
Chris Carter: C-. Sure, we all love Chris Carter. His nickname is "The Animal" and he hit those two dingers in Baltimore. But take away those two home runs and he's hitting .250/.280/.319 with below-average defense and baserunning. I didn't expect to be wowed by Carter, but I expected more than this.
Luis Castillo: D+. The best thing you can say about Luis Castillo is that he isn't Alex Cora, which on this team actually means something. He's still drawing tons of walks and making some use of them by stealing successfully in seven of eight chances. The batting average is way down, which hurts his other rate stats as well. He's slugging an unfathomable .283. His .305 wOBA is lower than those of David Eckstein (.306), Cristian Guzman (.314), and Jeff Keppinger (.323). Then again, he isn't Alex Cora.
Alex Cora: D-. So bad. Whatever your opinion of the BABIP fairy, the hits don't seem to have fallen in for Cora as often as they probably should have. A .232 BABIP with a 21.2% line drive rate likely means that quite a few at-em balls found gloves instead of the outfield grass. As bad as Cora is, he probably isn't this bad. .254 wOBA bad.
Ike Davis: B. I wanted to give him lower marks but I'll cut him some slack since it's his first go-round in the bigs, plus he seems to be rebounding a bit in July. After a ridiculous start in April, things got bad in May and worse in June. The walk and home run rates have shot back up this month, though, and his defense has appeared solid throughout. Whatever the true performance advantages, aesthetically it's nice to have a lefty-throwing first baseman again.
Jesus Feliciano: D. On the plus side, Feliciano got his first taste of big league action after nearly 5,000 minor league plate appearances. He also hit .291, which is a fine batting average. On the other hand, he hit just four doubles in 58 plate appearances -- no triples or home runs -- and drew a lone walk. He didn't play all that much, so maybe he would turn all of that around if only the Mets would stick him in the lineup more often. Or not that.
Jeff Francoeur: D-. Doesn't hit for average, doesn't hit for power, doesn't get on base, doesn't run well, doesn't range well. What else? He's affable and has a great arm, which, along with $350,000, will get you a replacement-level right fielder who would be just as good at baseball as Jeff Francoeur.
Gary Matthews Jr.: F. How'd he do? Oh, just one of the worst collections of 65 plate appearances I've ever seen in a Mets uniform. UZR liked his fielding in a small set of opportunities, but it hasn't liked him since 2005 (+/- hasn't liked him since 2006) so that could be statistical noise. I don't know if a Mets player has been reviled this much since Mussolini's cup of coffee in 1977.
Angel Pagan: A. Trying to imagine where the 2010 Mets would be without Pagan gives me IBS. I can't even fathom having given Jesus Feliciano 340 plate appearances in center. Or Gary Matthews Jr.? Now that Carlos Beltran is back in center, Pagan, starting most games in right field, is a nice insurance policy against future Beltran calamities.
Jose Reyes: B. Apart from the injuries, the biggest concern with Reyes this season has been his walk rate, which is down considerably from the past few seasons. Basically, he has been a league-average hitter with a terrific stolen base success rate (19 of 21) playing a crucial defensive position. That's nice, and the result is a fine player, but not the superstar we had all grown accustomed to in 2006-2008.
Fernando Tatis: D+. BABIP haterz move along, because it looks like Tatis has probably been the unfortunate victim of random variation. His .227 BABIP is far lower than we'd expect from a 19.6% line drive rate (a rough-and-dirty expected BABIP range would be .300 to .330). He's on the disabled list now but if he ever comes back it wouldn't be terribly unreasonable to predict better things from Tatis moving forward.
Ruben Tejada: D+. Tejada looked slick with the glove early on, but his bat didn't hold up and even his defense started slipping at the end there. He's just 20, so you never know, but he has nothing to contribute to a big league team right now.
David Wright: A. It certainly looks like 2009 was an aberration as Wright is back among the best players in baseball. The mounting strikeout total -- now over the century mark -- is not encouraging, but so long as he's getting on base and hitting for power it's not terribly discouraging either. Is he the clubhouse leader the
local media Mets need him to be? I have no idea, nor do I know if it makes any difference. I do know that he's an awesome baseball player who grew up a Mets fan and does a lot to help the community, so why anyone would advocate trading him is a mystery to all but the dimmest of cretins and nincompoops.